Inside a tent along the Kenai River, thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment sits on the water’s edge to collect fish data.
A new system called Adaptive Resolution Imaging Sonar or ARIS will be used at this station located off of Kalfornsky Beach Road in Soldotna. Some Alaska anglers may recall DIDSON, the fish counting technology that’s been in place for 6 years.
“The DIDSON has 512 pixels that can define an image,” said Alaska Fish & Game Scientist Debbie Burwen. “ARIS can go up to 4,000 pixels to define an image.”
Fish and Game says ARIS will be used to provide a clearer picture of what’s happening underwater, so a king won’t be misidentified as another species of fish, or vice-versa. The images are captured from on-shore and off-shore cameras at stations along the Kenai River.
“Going forward is one thing, but how we interpret the past is another matter,” said Kenai Sport Fishing Association President Ricky Gease.
Gease says he’s thrilled with the technology upgrade, but remains concerned the state is using data still collected under the old system, and using previous information to project future escapement goals.
“What we urge Fish and Game to do is take a very cautious approach to those past numbers because they’ve been shown to be in error, and have a wider degree of uncertainty to it,” said Gease.
Gease would prefer Fish and Game use the latest technology to ensure accuracy whenever and wherever possible.
The state hopes the technology will be the latest in a series of possible improvements to satisfy Alaskan’s need to fish and mother nature’s need for balance.
“It’s a better instrument, it is the next generation, it’s more powerful, more flexible,” adds ADF&G’s Burwen.
Officials say some of the equipment being used along the Kenai costs up to $100,000. The project has been funded by the state for the next two years and a second ARIS location could open five miles downstream.
Contact Adam Pinsker